Bisected by the Mtkvari River and protected on three sides by mountains, Tbilisi. Georgia, has a lovely setting and relatively mild climate.

Georgia's capital city was an industrial powerhouse of the Soviet Union and had a reputation for being lively, cosmopolitan and full of zest. The civil war took its toll, but the city retains some remnants of former glory and European atmosphere. We delighted in the shaded and cobbled back streets, the red-tiled buildings and the small parks filled with old men in flat caps playing a Georgian version of bowls.

Rustavelis Gamziri is the city's main thoroughfare, lined with churches, hotels, government buildings and an opera house built in 1896. You'll see some burned-out buildings on Rustavelis in the city center—reminders of Georgia's coup and civil conflict in 1992. You'll also find the Janashia Museum of Georgia on this street, housing the national collections of archaeology and history, and a superb treasury of pre-Christian gold and silver metalwork.

Tbilisi has an interesting restored Old Town (most of it lies south of the river). Climb up to the old Narikala Fort for some nice views. The old and new sections of town are linked by one of the city's largest squares, Freedom Square (formerly Lenin Square). Nearby is the State Art Museum, which exhibits some beautiful metalwork.

Day trips can be taken to Gori, Mtskheta and the Dzhvari church, set in a beautiful location 11 mi/18 km north of the capital.

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